What is "Fair Share"?
How do you know if you are doing or paying your fair-share? Frankly, your fair-share can mean anything anyone wants. The only way to achieve absolute equity is for everyone to have the same thing. But is that fair? If no one knows where the line is and whether or not the line is going to move, when does fair or equitable become unfair?
The National Review, October 21, 2017. By Thomas Sowell
What Democrats Mean 'Paying Your Fair-Share'
It is one of the many signs of the mindlessness of our times that all sorts of people declare that “the rich” are not paying their “fair share” in taxes, without telling us concretely what they mean by either “the rich” or “fair share.”
Whether in politics or in the media, words are increasingly used, not to convey facts or even allegations of facts, but simply to arouse emotions. Undefined words are a big handicap in logic, but they are a big plus in politics, where the goal is not clarity but victory — and the votes of gullible people count just as much as the votes of people who have common sense.
What a “fair share” of taxes means in practice is simply “more.” No matter how high the tax rate is on people with a given income, you can always raise the tax rate further by saying that they are still not paying their “fair share.”
There are mountains of evidence, going back for generations, showing that raising tax rates does not automatically mean raising tax revenues — and has often actually led to falling tax revenues.
There was a similar reaction in Oregon and in Britain. Rich people do not simply stand still to be sheared like sheep. They can either send their money somewhere else or they can leave themselves.
There is nothing inevitable about either a higher or a lower amount of tax revenues, whether the tax rate is raised or lowered. The government can only set tax rates. How that will affect the tax revenues actually received depends on how people react, and you can know that only after the fact. Sophisticated projections have often been laughably wrong.
Contrary to the way some people on the left conceive of the world, neither rich people nor poor people are inert blocks of wood, to be moved about like pieces on a chess board, to carry out some grand design from on high.
Even outright confiscations of people’s wealth, including whole industries in some countries, have failed to spread prosperity, and have even led to collapsing economies.
But politics is not about what happened in the past. That is left for historians. What politicians are interested in is what they can get the public to believe in the present and to vote on in the future. Plans to “soak the rich,” who are not paying their “fair share,” have worked politically, time and time again — and may well work yet again in the 2016 elections.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is tsowell.com. © 2015 Creators Syndicate Inc.